Venezuelan Protest and Violence As Seen From Afar

February 14, 2014


When you are not in situ, it is not easy to report on events like those that have been taking place in Venezuela. Even if your read every thing, there is no substitute for being there.  On the ground, watching TV, talking to people and getting a feel for what is going on. That is why I yielded to Daniel yesterday, I could do no better than him.

But as a blog concerned with Venezuela, how can I not write about the events of the last two days if that is all I am thinking about?

So, here is my take:

Venezuelans are fed up. The shortages, crime and inflation are taking their toll. People are arrechos, which in English has a very straight translation: People are really pissed.

While you or I may not agree on a strategy of protests, I believe Leopoldo Lopez and Maria Corina Machado, in the knowledge that people were about to start protesting, decided to get ahead of the protests and start calling people to go out and protest in the name of #LaSalida. Somehow, when the protest began, they would be the receptors of the frustration that most Venezuelans have when they line up for purchasing basic staples, almost every day.

The students, the young frustrated people of Venezuela, were going to protest on February 12th. anyway, the day when Venezuelans celebrate La Batalla de La Victoria, a battle won by Jose Felix Rivas who was accompanied by students, regular ones and those from the seminary. They stopped the royalists led by Boves, thus February 12th celebrates the victory of youth at that battle.

And they went to the Prosectors office, where they met with not only resistance from police, but with violent groups belonging to either the so called “collectivos” or to the “Sebin” intelligence police. There are videos of Police and Sebin (intelligence police)  officers shooting real bullets against the protesters.

But even before violence erupted, the Government was already threatening the media, saying that they could be shut down for showing protests. Most of the media applied self-restraint and it was difficult to determine exactly what was going on.

By the time February 12th. came around, there were few media outlets covering the events, and one, Colombia’s NTN24, was not only blocked from the Internet after covering events live all day. But NTN24 was removed from the programming of all cable TV stations, simply disappearing from the scene, while protests were taking place. Maduro called this a “decision of State”

I call it stupid censorship…

And while there is evidence in video and picture form, that both SEBIN officers and “colectivos” shot at the student protesters, the Government issues and arrest warrant against Leopoldo Lopez and a Chavista Deputy calls for removing parliamentary from Deputy Machado, in order to be able to investigate her and prosecute her. But remarkably, after this diffuse charges against the “leaders” of the protests, there is no call to investigate or prosecute those that were taped and seen shooting and killing at the protesters. (The arrest warrant against Lopez has yet to be executed)

Which is quite revealing, no?

Moving towards today, it is clear that there will be no investigation of what happened. According to the Maduro Government (?) it is all a conspiracy to overthrow him, as if a bunch of students with stones and guts can actually expect to fight with the organized criminal system Chavismo has established.

Going forward things could get complicated. The students are unlikely to leave the streets now that there have been deaths and the way the Government has reacted. Maduro and his cronies like the confrontational style and are unlikely to back down from their stance. If each sides pushes forward, things could get violent and tricky very fast. Many students are still in jail.

The events are also affecting the dynamics of politics within both the Government and the opposition. Within the Government, because the colectivos remain a problem for the military and they have played a significant role in igniting the protests. And despite Maduro’s ban on protests, they continued on Thursday despite the streets being full of National Guardsman and their anti-riot equipment. Clearly, someone was holding off the troops for the time being.

Within the opposition, the gamble by Maria Corina Machado and Lopez to ask people to take to the streets, has paid off. Their role in Venezuelan politics will become more prominent if the Government decides to go after them. On the other side of this is former Presidential candidate Henrique Capriles, who has tried to distance himself from the protests and if the protests gather steam, he may lose his position as leader of the opposition.

Maduro has been careful not to attack the students, but has focused on the leadership of the protests at the political level, which implies he is being careful. But any mistake on either side could escalate this conflict to unknown levels and places.

Some question the strategy of protests. I believe protests will be daily events in Venezuela going forward, as shortages and inflation accelerate due to the inaction of the Government. I don’t believe taking to the streets is a strategy, but a reality of daily life in Venezuela, which some may take advantage of politically. Where it leads is as unclear as any other strategy, as the results of last years Presidential election showed. The opposition was well behaved and in the end got ripped off by the Government which never performed the promised audits. It is no surprise that many believe a different strategy is needed now.

But in the end, this is not or should not be about removing the Government, but about pressuring the Government to change course. Scarcity, inflation and crime affect Venezuelans equally, anyone that thinks that Chavistas are happy should read polls more carefully. Yes, there is a hard core militancy that will never say things are bad, but more and more Venezuelans are fed up with the whole economic situation. Absent Chavez, they are not as willing to put up with problems as they used to. Students protesting belong to homes on both side of the political divide. Just because Chavismo shows little dissent publicly, it does not mean that there are no disagreements within the many sides of Chavismo in Government, including the military. The tougher things get, the wider the protests, the wider the dissent. And the more pressure there will be on Maduro to change course…

63 Responses to “Venezuelan Protest and Violence As Seen From Afar”

  1. NET Says:

    Miguel, as usual, your reporting is excellent, but I do not believe that Maduro or his Cuban puppet-masters will change course, even though a tactical pause or short-term flanking action are possible.

  2. VJ Says:

    Leopoldo Lopez sends a message to the Venezuelan people.

  3. VJ Says:

    Ultimas Noticias. Investigative Video Report.
    Uniformados y civiles dispararon en La Candelaria el 12F.

  4. xp Says:

    Pity the tired GN,
    Pity the tired PNB,
    Bashing bodies and skulls all day,
    Pedregoniando boys and girls all night,
    Give them a break!
    Let the new mer$$enaries
    entering Maiquetia today
    do the heavy lifting.
    Let them kill & maim our kids,
    GN & PNB needs rest.

  5. 46 Says:

    Tambien esta la vaina que muchos gringos no ven la isla pequena como una amenaza mientras que EEUU es prioridad para los Cubanos. Yo estoy del lado que ve a CUba como ‘clear and present danger’ para EEUU

  6. 46 Says:

    IMHO, why are the Cubans so successful with human intelligence? 1) Consistency. We change government every four years in this country thus our policies towards Cuba are inconsistent. 2) Cuban born agents are selected and vetted from the time they are teenagers and taught tradecraft. 3) Non-Cuban-born agents in this country do it because of Fidel. Narcissists love narcissists and Fidel’s socipathy is amazing. This is the realm of personality disorders and it gets very twisted and wicked. The Cubans know how to cultivate narcissism in people better than anyone.

    IT’s more complicated but this is a short summary as I understand it.

    • Rory Says:

      So successful? Sure, they are good at what they do because they put massive resources into it and most of the reasons you mentioned, but what do you mean? They are far behind western countries, whose disadvantage is their openness, in technology.

  7. 46 Says:

    Two Cuban agents who operate openly in this country are Eva Golinger and Julia Sweig. But hey, go check it out for yourself:

  8. 46 Says:

    Ira, estamos bien infiltrados.

  9. 46 Says:

    OT: This editorial published today is about US-Cuba relations and Havana’s unchanging hardline

  10. 45 Says:

    OT: This article published today details how Cuba communicates with its agents in Miami, Washington and NY. (dedicated to Ira)

  11. Ira Says:

    It’s World War III in my wife’s family these days.

    My niece returned to VZ last week, and showed her aunt Christina (my sister-in-law, a raving Chavista) several photos she took of her standing next to hundreds of packages of Harina Pan while visiting FL.

    Well, Christina started yelling that all of that was actually made in VENEZUELA, and that the company probably put a “Made in Colombia” sticker over the package–because they wanted to wage economic war with VZ.

    In other words, in her world, the food company was screwing VZ. She couldn’t accept the reality that the company is prospering and exporting quite nicely out of Colombia. And no, it says quite clearly on the package, no sticker, “Made in Colombia.”

    So Christina calls my other niece (her daughter) who emigrated to Canada a ways back and starts screaming and bitching about the protesters, and gets into this great Harina Pan Debate of 2014 with her ALSO. So I have a niece here now who has learned to despise her own mother, simply because of stupid Chavismo–and a few bags of Harina Pan.

    • Rory Says:

      Their ‘tribal’ identity and hatred of the other is so ingrained they are capable of all sorts of mental gymnastics. What’s the alternative? Admitting the ideology (or man) you followed and devoted so much to for years was just a false prophet and a liar? That takes strength, maturity, and wisdom beyond most normal people.

    • Rob Says:

      Sounds about normal.

  12. xp Says:

    Comment from today’s Daniel blog …

    Alfredo Weil @AlfredoWeil
    El trío MA-CAB-RO (MA-duro, CAB-ello, RO-driguez Torres) cada vez se enreda más … A ratos se ponen la capa de caporucita, siempre rojita
    9:22 AM – 16 Feb 2014

  13. A news video making the rounds on non official news sites. Put together in the USA, forwarded to me from a Havana friend.

  14. firepigette Says:

    Stuart Freeman’s analysis on the power of authenticity has great merit I think.It is only through this that Venezuela could lure the allies that it needs and deserves

    Calculation and planning, rational ideas, will not move masses.

    Heart felt gestures do.

    The power of authenticity is something many people forget about , but is the greatest power.

  15. geronl Says:

    There will never again be a fair election as long as Chavistas remain. This is the start of a new dirty war. Opposition leaders arrested, government thugs shooting and killing protesters to intimidate any opposition.

    The idea that demands for clean elections or peaceful protests will change anything is wrong.

    • Alexis Says:

      History should teach us that peaceful protests can achieve great things when they are truly massive and generalized, paralyzing the economy. That they remain peaceful or not depends on the government’s response.

    • Rory Says:

      There has not been a ‘fair election in roughly 9 years. Free mostly, but not fair.

  16. Irate Irational Says:

    OT: (dedicated to Ira)

    The government of Cuba announced late Friday that it will no longer process visas for U.S. travel to Cuba.

    Cuba said travel will end until a new U.S. bank can be found to process visa fees that are collected and routed to Cuba.

    Cuba’s decision means only humanitarian travel will be permitted to the island nation from the United States, and that the “people-to-people” visas and other educational travel will be shut off. Cuba said it would cut off “family visits, academic, cultural, educational, scientific, sports” and other exchanges.
    The decision is a blow to the goals of the Obama administration, which sought to expand travel opportunities to the island. It will also have an immediate impact on Cuba’s access to hard currency, on which many of its citizens rely.

    • Ira Says:

      From what I understand, this a banking issue that both the U.S. and Cuba have WANTED to resolve, but with banks subject to sanctions under the embargo, and the high administrative costs of so many small transactions, no bank is stupid enough to step up to the plate.

      Of course, one could say that Cuba’s recent shipment of weapons to North Korea was a deliberate move to, once again, sabotage any serious moves toward U.S. reconciliation.

  17. moses Says:

    Ok, nailed one of the Tear Gas, its from Condor and its made in Brazil, GL-310 Baiariona (Dancing)

    From Twitter @Oriherrera:

    Look for GL 310 – Granada Lacrimogênea de Movimentos Aleatórios (BAILARINA)

  18. moses Says:

    How about some help from the readers to find out from where is the Venezuelan government buying the “expired” CS 37/38 mm Tear Gas Canister ? Take a look at the picture in the link below:

    It could be made by Condor in Brazil, by Falken Spain or other supplier (China, Russia ?


    What is curious is the expression “Fecha de validad”.

  19. VJ Says:

    Juancho el líder carapaica asesinado. Sicariato?
    La primera vez que vi a Juan Montoya “Juancho” apenas tenía descubierto los ojos y los orificios de nariz y boca. Cubría todo lo demás, incluso sus manos. Luego de muchos contactos y mensajes aceptó concedernos una entrevista. Tomando estrictas medidas de seguridad, nos llevaron, a la fotógrafa Damelis Solórzano y a mí, hasta un lugar recóndito del 23 de Enero, popular barriada caraqueña. Allí, en un local pequeñísimo, estaba él y un grupo de personas fuertemente armadas y con capuchas; contexturas fuertes, lo que hacía presumir que eran hombres y jóvenes. “Soy el comandante Murachí y a mi lado el comandante Manuel”. Así empezó la entrevista de casi tres horas. Con el tiempo, hubo otras entrevistas. Por fin un día decidió hablarme sin el rostro cubierto. Hablaba con pasión de “su pueblo”. Tras esa imagen de hombre decidido, escondía mucha ternura por sus mujeres, por su familia. Entendí que era un ser extraño, capaz de accionar un arma si estaba convencido de esa necesidad o de sacrificarse por un sueño. No pocos de esos que han dicho públicamente que la revolución perdió a un hombre valioso, lo enfrentaron ferozmente. Casi nunca estaba solo, pero la última vez que nos vimos dio muchas vueltas en su moto. Llegó nervioso, solo y con el pasar de las horas, más tranquilo volvió a hablar con febrilidad de sus sueños. Estaba preocupado por el país, le angustiaba lo que pasaba al interior del chavismo. “No es una entrevista”, me advirtió. Y cuando le dije riéndome que sería un tubazo, me confesó: “lo sé, pero estoy seguro que para ti la solidaridad y la amistad son más importantes”. Ese día parecía nostálgico. Le preocupaba su seguridad, no sólo “por el fascismo de la derecha”, como llamaba a la oposición, sino “por la derecha endógena que tenemos en la revolución”, murmuró. No tenía simpatía por Valentina Santana, el líder de La Piedrita, a quien le criticaba su método de lucha, pero aún así cuando el Cicpc allánó viviendas en el 23 de Enero en busca de Santana, la posición de Juancho y su grupo fue firme. “Si le permitimos eso, mañana entrarán por cualquiera de nosotros”.

    PRESO. Juancho ingresó a la policía Metropolitana en el año 2000, con la llegada de Freddy Bernal a la alcaldía. Allí estaban algunos de sus más feroces enemigos. Por el caso de los explosivos en Fedecámaras, fue preso. Permaneció varios meses en los sótanos de la Dirección de Inteligencia Militar (DIM). Mario Silva en su programa nocturno lo atacó con dureza e incluso reveló su identidad públicamente. Entre los colectivos del 23 de Enero y organizaciones populares hubo voces para que lo liberaran. Juancho tenía décadas de lucha popular.

    HISTORIA. Perteneció al grupo cultural y deportivo Indios Caribe, que conducía Luis Roberto Rodríguez “Niño”, enlace con los hermanos Arné y Jessy Chacón y Bandera Roja. En la intentona golpista del 27 de Noviembre de 1992, ese grupo colabora activamente en la planificación y organización de la toma del Canal 8. Juancho asume el liderazgo de Indios Caribe luego del 12 de junio de 1993 tras el asesinato Luis Roberto Rodríguez “Niño”. Cuando Chávez sale de la cárcel el 27 de marzo de 1994, Juancho perteneció al primer anillo de seguridad de Chávez en el primer acto público del teniente coronel. En la campaña de 1998 tuvo una intensa actividad por el triunfo de quien ganó las elecciones. Tuvo una destacada participación durante el golpe del 11 de abril y los días posteriores, en la defensa del presidente Chávez, igual que durante el paro petrolero. Estrecha relación con Ferddy Bernal, Lina Ron, con el ahora ministro Miguel Rodríguez Torres, con el diputado Reinaldo García.

    PRONUNCIAMIENTO. La rebeldía de Juancho no le permitía convalidar con el silencio algunos hechos en el gobierno nacional. Es así que en enero del año 2010 se pronuncian públicamente cuestionando al ejecutivo y pidiéndole a Chávez que renueve el gabinete acusándolo de enriquecerse ilícitamente. Noticias RCN de Colombia divulgó el vídeo en el que aparece Juancho como el comandante Murachí, del Movimiento Revolucionario de Liberación Carapaica. Le pide a Chávez rectificar el rumbo del proceso bolivariano. “Las nuevas instituciones del estado revolucionario bolivariano se encuentran secuestradas, por estos pseudo revolucionarios, quienes se hacen llamar socialistas”. Agregó que hay quienes han ejercido cargos de representación popular y dirección política han incurrido en hechos de enriquecimiento ilícito en nombre de la revolución, “ubicados en un plano de inmoralidad y anti-ético que raya en la conducta de un hamponato político de nuevo estilo. En la entrevista exclusiva que les hicimos para Quinto Día, Carapaica se declaró aliado de Chávez pero criticó la corrupción y habló de un pueblo en armas. Confesaron que se radicalizan como una muestra de descontento ante “la corrupción, ineficiencia e incapacidad, resultado de estos 10 años y más allá de todo esto la ética, la moral, la praxis”.

    ¿SICARIATO? Fue asesinado en un hecho aún confuso cerca de la sede de la fiscalía, mientras se efectuaba la marcha de la oposición. En el chavismo las voces corrieron a señalar a la abstracta “derecha” y en la oposición “a la policía”. Quizás nunca se sepa, ni la de él ni la de los muchachos en las manifestaciones. Lo que sí es cierto es que la violencia va tomando vuelo, las peleas por el poder en los sectores polarizados se radicalizan, en esas aguas revueltas muchos tratarán de pescar. Los que han regado y rieguen la sangre del país, también han sembrado el dolor en el corazón de sus seres queridos. Y al final todos seremos víctimas de lo que hagamos ahora con el país. La manera torpe como se generaron los sucesos en Táchira, catalogando a una protesta estudiantil de terrorista, que el gobernador diga que intentaron secuestrar a sus hijos sin prueba alguna, la insistencia en decir que fue atacada la residencia de gobernadores para atentar contra la primera dama. La realidad es que ahí no viven los Vielma, ellos habitan en una quinta, en una urbanización cerrada y fuertemente custodiada en la parte alta de San Cristóbal. Inexplicable la actuación de un tribunal y la fiscalía instalados en un cuartel militar para imputar a los estudiantes presos y enviarlos a una peligrosa cárcel. El intento de silenciar a algunos medios de comunicación, creando más dudas y miedos. Alguien juega con fuego. No se suspenden las clases, se provoca aún más al movimiento estudiantil, a quien se le suman voces de la sociedad civil y ahí aparecen los que apuestan a la violencia y al caos.

  20. […] Venezuelan Protest and Violence As Seen From Afar […]

  21. Roy Says:


    I agree with your analysis, except for one thing… Maduro CANNOT change course.

    1. He is not an independent agent. If the Cubans didn’t kill him, the rabidly radical elements in the Government would.

    2. Any changes he makes would make things worse in the short term, and he could not survive the backlash.

    3. Chavismo cannot admit that Chavez was wrong. It would be akin to blasphemy and would be a betrayal of their core constituency.

    • moctavio Says:

      If he does not hange course, he is hosed, his own will eat him alive, just like a praying mantiss.

      • Roy Says:

        Which is to say that he is well and truly screwed. Damned if he does; damned if he doesn’t. He will be lucky to escape with his life. I don’t envy his position, though he has only himself, Chavez and the Cubans to blame.

    • 890L Says:

      they can do whatever they want including changing course. correct on #3

  22. moctavio Says:

    I think its the change in rules.

  23. Island Canuck Says:

    Off topic

    Sicad Subastó $222 Millones La Última Semana

    Was that becuase of the change in rules at the last minute or they just didn’t have the $440 million that they said they had.

    Sounds like another excuse to buy more time

  24. Frank Says:

    Good analysis, thanks Miguel. Even if you can’t be there, this was definitely needed. The other blog you mentioned goes in for a lot of juvenile name calling, it’s not a worthy substitute for your writing.

    About your comment “ Leopoldo Lopez and Maria Corina Machado, in the knowledge that people were about to start protesting, decided to get ahead of the protests”, this is what I am also seeing, but I’m not sure the gamble has paid off: the protests are too disorganised, people are reporting little to no logistical support, and if there’s one thing experienced political operators should being with them, it’s organization and support. That they don’t get this, and allow their supporters to be picked off in little groups, is beyond belief at this point.

    I still don’t see any strategy.

  25. Ronaldo Says:

    Does Maduro have the power to issue an arrest warrant? Isn’t this a judge’s job?
    Oh I forgot, this is Venezuela where the constitution has less value than toilet paper.

  26. The large Vietnam war protests in the US were well choreographed. They made big names for a few. They were wonderful social events. They did not speed-up ending the war. Nor did they make Americans more aware of the tragedy of that war. It was the Vietnam Veteran’s protest march in DC and their throwing away of their war medals that was the most profound march. The leaking of the Pentagon Papers followed. That finally blew the lid off the war. So many other variables were involved such as financial, dissatisfaction in the army ranks, and pressure from our allies that sealed the American intervention in Vietnam.

    But in Venezuela there is no or little dissatisfaction in the army ranks (supposition on my part of course), leaks don’t worry these Chavistas who just bend the truth and lie about even unconsequential things, finances are a mess but the Chavista leadership finds ways to use it to their advantage, Venezuela’s allies (Cuba, Argentina, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Syria) back Venezuela’s killing of protestors. But, and there is alway a but–there is the rest of South America. And that is who these protesters much play to. They must enlighten South American populations so that they will sympathize with them. They must make them comprehend that they too will have their turn if the Chavistas’s abuses are not addressed now. Peru, Argentina, and Ecuador are prime examples of where this Chavista cancer is already spreading to. If South America is to advance, Chavistism must end.

    Bill Bass, in another blog said, “There is this illusion that mass protests or actions are always the result of careful calculation.” Many of these protests are from the heart. And that is what must carry over to the rest of South America.

    • Ira Says:

      Come on:

      Serious opposition to the Vietnam war started building from day one–veterans throwing their medals away was just the icing on the cake.

      And what really fueled the opposition to the war? The dead kids being shipped home.

      A lack of basics like toilet paper paper and Hershey bars can have the same effect.

      • 890L Says:

        you forgot why: THE DRAFT

      • 890L Says:

        Ira, please respect the fallen. They where not kids. They were men.

      • Ira, come on. I attended three funerals of highschool friends before I went to Nam. Their parents all felt that their kids died for something.

        Futhermore, I sent from Nam a condolence letter, to the mother of a friend and great solder. Later, when attending college Johnny’s mother came to visit me. I was stoned that day. For hours we two sat on a couch in my faternity house and cried together. Johnny’s mother wanted to know how her son died. I probably lied about everything and told her how much we were doing for the Vietnamese. And how her son’s death served a purpose. That was what she needed and that was what I gave her.

        So Ira, throwing our medals was a thing from the heart. And America knew that. And things changed after that.

        • Ira Says:

          I’m just saying that when people start hurting…personally see and feel it, know the dead…protests work and bring about change. And I certainly don’t mean to diminish the deaths, but the vast majority were just kids.

          Old people send kids to war, and the kids die for it.

          • John Says:

            I disagree that a 23 year old man is a “kid”

            draft age in vietnam was 18-25. these stats are the basis for the vietnam memorial:

            Average age of 58,148 killed in Vietnam was 23.11 years.

            Deaths Number Average Age
            Total 58,148 23.11 years
            Enlisted 50,274 22.37 years
            Officers 6,598 28.43 years
            Warrants 1,276 24.73 years
            E1 525 20.34 years
            USMC 1,122 20.46 years
            11B MOS 18,465 22.55 years

            One man killed in Vietnam was only 16 years old (RABER, PAUL J.) [CACF]

            The oldest man killed was 62 years old (TAYLOR, KENNA CLYDE). [CACF]

            11,465 KIAs were less than 20 years old. [CACF]

    • RattInnaCage Says:

      I understand what Stuart is getting at, I also understand what Ira is getting at.
      Yes there were marches with tens of thousands, yes there sit-ins at colleges, but they would not have had any impact except for one thing – Walter Cronkite. America got to see their favorite newsman look up at the camera one day and with a pain on his face, he told the America people that the war was unwinable. This was not at the end of the war, but just after the Tet Offensive, while the war was raging. Here is what he told the American people:

      >> “Both in Vietnam and Washington to have faith any longer in the silver linings they find in the darkest clouds. For it seems now more certain than ever, that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate. To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past.

      To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, if unsatisfactory conclusion. On the off chance that military and political analysts are right, in the next few months we must test the enemy’s intentions, in case this is indeed his last big gasp before negotiations.

      But it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could.”

      This is Walter Cronkite. Good night. <<

      Now THAT was a jolt to the American people.

      I also agree with Ira that those brave men who died were actually kids. THREE TIMES my senior year in high school, the entire school went outside and watched a hearse drive by with a soldier, and I went to high school with every one of them – none were 21 yet, they couldn't drink, they couldn't vote, but they certainly could die. One of the, Raymond Fritz (yes, I still remember his name) graduated in 1967 and was dead before new years, 1968.
      Tell a 42 year old Gold Star mother their child is not a kid. To so many Mothers and Fathers, they weren't men, they were their children. To eighteen year olds like me, they weren't men, they were the "big kids" who played on the other side of the playgound.

      Now I realize that the Venezuelan airwaves are controlled by the government, I realize that there is no newsprint and ink. The Venezuelan's do not have a Walter Cronkite backed up by CBS, which was willing to do something never before in History – Put American Soldiers dying on the battlefield on the nightly news.

      But the Venezuelan people CAN see the bare shelves, Can feel the bite of inflation, Can look at all their electric appliances that can't run because the electricity is not always working. They see their children return home bloody and bruised, they pay their bribes to go about their days foraging shops for food, they do know what is happening.

      The Internet is a beautiful thing. Include a #hashtag and all Venezuela can read your message on twitter. Block one site, another dozen open up for business. Even something as silly as those Memes – a photo and a dozen or so words can say so much more than that silly guy with the mustache and track suit can say in an hour of yelling on the TV.

      • RattInnaCage Says:

        I just re-read my post, and I would like to make a slight clarification. Walter Cronkite was not the single catalyst to end the war. But Vietnam was the first true televised war, brought to millions of living rooms along with the TV dinner. And it was Cronkite, along with the other news men that made the war real, showed the dead students on that hill at Kent State, that showed us all those tired old men sending young men to a senseless war.

      • Ira Says:

        Excellent, excellent points. And you’re right on about Cronkite. America’s most TRUSTED newsman:

        While most of us younger were against the war from the beginning, his analysis made the older generation think differently about it.

  27. xp Says:

    Good insights –

    someone was holding off the troops for the time being.

    Police and Sebin (intelligence police) officers
    shooting real bullets against the protesters.

    February 12th celebrates the victory
    of youth at that battle.

    Venezuelans are fed up.

  28. Noel Says:

    I agree that demonstrations will continue and increase. As Luis Miquelina recently implied, when there is no alternative via elections because these are fraudulent, then the only solution is to take the streets.

    So far, the opposition has proven impotent, unable to win at the polls (even if it was probably impossible) and unwilling to lead a popular movement.

    At last, somebody abroad (the EU) condemned the violence, even if in mild terms. I think that the pressure must be increased (easy to say from abroad) to force change, which initially will probably be Maduro being replaced by another Chavista.

    Miquelina was very explicit in saying that protesters needed to take the same risks as those taken in 1958; he could have added those taken by the East Germans and the Hungarians in the 1950s, the Czechs in the 1960s and the Poles in the 1980s.

  29. Maybe the author just wants to very indirectly prove his point about the importance of being there. But while in Venezuela arrechos may actually mean pissed off, using that word indiscreetly in the other 21 countries with Spanish as an official language could get you run out of town

    • moctavio Says:

      Arrecho has many meanings across the Spanish speaking world, I am sure you are thinking about the sexual meaning, In Costa Rica, I think, it means someone who is lucky, but the Venezuelan meaning is the same in most of Central America and Colombia.

    • 890L Says:

      in venezuela “maricon” and “guevon” are terms of endearment!

      • Ira Says:

        When I was in the DR and hardly spoke a word of Spanish, I was looking for directions to the beach front, in Puerto Plata.

        I asked the hotel front desk clerk, “Donde esta maricon? Necesito maricon.”

        Of course, I was looking for the malecon.

        She also looked at me like I was crazy the next day, when gesturing with my hands to indicate that I was showering, that I needed soap, I said, “Necesito sopa!”

        True story–but just another stupid gringo to them.

        • Blightey. Says:

          Maybe it is a bit daft to pick holes in choice of vocabulary. We all know that both the English and Spanish languages are made up of many different variants. For example, although I always understood “arrecho” to imply angry, I never presumed that “the author” was translating it as blind drunk; i.e. “pissed”.

  30. Ronaldo Says:

    One photo says it-

  31. Reblogged this on danmillerinpanama and commented:

    But in the end, this is not or should not be about removing the Government, but about pressuring the Government to change course. Scarcity, inflation and crime affect Venezuelans equally, anyone that thinks that Chavistas are happy should read polls more carefully.

    Even assuming that such pressure otherwise might work, is the Chavista regime able to change course? Will they know how to do it? Neither seems likely.

  32. m_astera Says:

    As I wrote to a friend in the US last night, people supported Chavez for the free shit, not because of belief in socialist ideology. When the free shit stops, so does the support. This ain’t Cuba.

    A generation ago, the hard-core poor had, arguably, never known anything but lack and poverty. Chavez got them used to eating 3 times a day and having cable TV and free electricity, petrol, and cooking gas, along with full store shelves and money in their pockets that could buy what was on the shelves. They are not going to give that up for socialist ideals, or long tolerate any government that is so incompetent it lets all the money be stolen by insiders and cronies, leaving nothing left to pay the bills.

    • firepigette Says:


      I think either you are young, or you have not every lived in barrios, or you have not lived in Venezuela for too long a time.

      I know from personal experience( living in poorer neighborhoods for years in the late 60’s and 70’s, that most of the poorer people in Venezuela at that time had quite enough to eat, decent clothing, access to public education and far far less crime than there is today.Electric was free because it was stolen.

      When I lived in Catia , I lived in one of the more dangerous spots but it was safe enough for me to always walk around alone.We shopped in a grocery store that everyone called” La Casa de los Chinos” that did not have the best hygiene( I can still smell the smell of huge tables of dirty mondongo) etc….but the food was affordable and the people happy with it.

      What i saw happen to change all of that was that instead of proving the conditions that were bad( like the right to justice for the poor), was a campaign of insidious leftist propaganda that called on people to hate and feel resentment.

      But I do believe what you say about people voting for free things….because they lack perspective.

    • m_astera Says:

      Firepigette- You are correct about one of your assumptions: I have only known Venezuela in person since 2006. My statements about food and money to buy things with are based on what those who grew up here in the 60s and 70s have told me. Things may have been different for those living in poor agricultural communities than they were in the ranchos of Caracas.

      Democracy is very easy to manipulate; one needs only promise a majority of the voters to improve their lot with no effort on their part. Chavez came through with enough freebies that, combined with the endless promises of even more to come, it was enough to get him elected twice. I suspect that fear of Chavez’ wrath was enough to keep the stealing down to a level that still allowed the poor enough free stuff to keep them content. Maduro does not have the same power of fear, so the stealing has gotten out of control; shortages are chronic rather than intermittent, and inflation is absolutely slamming the working poor. The country is now ripe for the next round of promises, which will be much harder to follow through on.

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